Young people in this country don't trust our police

With a very different sense of geography on our streets, Britain's young people don't share the feeling that more bobbies on the beat means safer streets

Share
Related Topics

We have a system of policing by consent in this country which is important to preserve, but the many of the next generation are growing up with a mistrust of certain sections of the police. Young people are often the victims of violent crimes and we need them to have confidence in the police if those crimes are going to be reported and dealt with effectively.

After looking into this issue and speaking to many young people, it’s obvious to me that the many surveys that show the Metropolitan Police Service has a trust problem with young people are especially true in London. After visiting several projects that engage with young people across London, I published a report last week looking at how the Met can gain the trust of young Londoners.

False consensus

Police cannot do their job unless people report crime. Young people are now so distrusting of the police that many would not report a crime, regardless of whether they were the victim or a witness because they do not think the police would do anything. The young people I spoke to at a school in Southwark not only said they would not report the theft of a mobile phone to the police, but they laughed at the suggestion.

We are told the overwhelming consensus is that more police on the streets makes people feel safer. That is why the Mayor and government repeatedly talk in terms of police on the streets. However, this consensus seems to be to the exclusion of young people who reported feeling less safe when they see police on the street. In some cases it made them fear a friend of theirs may have been hurt or killed or in trouble. Young people told me when they see police on the streets they are “just standing there” and not doing anything – a perspective that is rarely part of the debate on policing.

I was struck by how the young people I spoke to have a completely different sense of geography in terms of where they thought of as safe to go compared to adults. Young people at a school in my local area named places I consider completely safe as areas they wouldn’t go near out of fear they could become the victim of crime. When I asked if putting more police into the specific locations they thought of as dangerous would make them feel safer, I was surprised that the response was an overwhelming ‘no’. This is vital information the police need to be aware of if they are to do their job.

Young people referred to the Territorial Support Group – the Met’s specialist team that responds to public order and supports the boroughs – vehicles as “bully vans” and made a distinction between the local neighbourhood police that they knew and the Territorial Support Group. However, despite making this distinction I repeatedly heard how this team has a negative effect on other areas of the police. This one team appears to exemplify the problems between young people and the police. That is why I have recommended that this team either be scrapped – using the money to train neighbourhood officers to a higher level – or that this group be prioritised for compulsory training on working with young people.

Simple

Despite the problems I found between the police and young people there are some simple things they can do to improve things. If police officers are expected to respond to the needs of young people then they should receive training in how to work with young people.

The police must acknowledge the differences in adult/young peoples’ perceptions. I see local police patrolling and feel safer, young people feel more vulnerable. Places I feel are perfectly safe for an older woman to walk at night, they regard as dangerous. I see a police van and I’m curious, they see the TSG as a van load of bullies.

The police need to be embedded in the communities they serve and should work with community groups and schools. The police need to increase the amount of positive interactions they have with young people and to become part of the furniture of their lives, rather than the people who stop and search them. It is essential that young Londoners trust the police if we are to improve confidence and prevent crimes. It will take work from both the police and young people to improve the relationship between these two groups, but the Met can’t police London properly without that effort.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Lawyer - Cheshire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...

Austen Lloyd: Residential Property Solicitor - Hampshire

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Michael Brown was shot and killed by police in August  

Ferguson: The sad truth is that Michael Brown was killed because he was a black man

Bonnie Greer
A protestor poses for a  

Ferguson verdict: This isn't a 'tragedy'. This is part of a long-running genocide of black men in America

Otamere Guobadia
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital